“May your life be beautiful as your ”Flowers ”

17 Nov 2011

17th Nov 2011

Ardavan Roozbeh / Radio koocheh

Translated by Avideh Motmaen-Far

October 27, has been declared the world visual and audio heritage protection day by UNESCO. One of the most valuable audio collections in Iran is the well known “Flowers” collection launched by “Davood Pirnia” on the radio.
“Davood Pirnia” was a lawyer, and founder of the Iranian Bar Association in 1956. He created the radio program “Flowers”. He was the originator of the radio bands.

While studying law in Switzerland, Pirnia started learning piano, studied Iranian music and made the  effort to collect Iranian songs. Then he left us a precious treasure of traditional Iranian music that listeners could hear Iranian fine music through the newly established media.

He formed an orchestra with musicians, singers and composers of that period whose works became known as the “program of colorful flowers”. At its beginning, the program “Flowers” was about reading poem accompanied by instruments, which gradually became singing with music. The program was expanded in 1960 and implemented in two episodes of “Everlasting Flowers” and “Colorful Flowers”.

Later on, a variety of programs such as “Colorful Flowers”, “Green Leaf”, “A Flower”, and “Desert Flowers”, also were added to “Flowers”, each of which relied on a particular topic; music, poetry,  literary history, and songs.

Combining poetry and music in the ”Flowers” was responsible for the special attraction to this program and its popularity.

The “Everlasting Flowers” Foundation, Davood Pirnia’s cultural heritage, was created by “Manssoureh Pirnia” and “Darius Pirnia” efforts, and a collection of “Everlasting Flowers”, ”Colorful Flowers”, ”Desert Flowers”, ”Green Leaf”, ”A flower”, ”New Flowers” and ”Anthology of the week” with excellent soloists in the piece over 2500 program in digital production and “Treasure of Everlasting Flowers ” are collected to identify, preserve and expand Iranian authors.

In this interview conducted by Ardavan Roozbeh today, “Darius Pirnia”, son of ”Davood Pirnia”, have spoken about the history of ”Flowers” and with “Manssoureh Pirnia”, his daughter-in-law, on how they have collected these works.

Thank you Mr. Darius Pirnia for having accepted our invitation at Radio Koocheh.

October 27, is the World Audio and Visual Heritage Protection Day. For us, Iranians, one of the the largest legacies, is the programs in this beautiful and memorable “Flower” collection. Your father, Davood Pirnia, was the founder of this collection of programs. It would be very interesting to know how you father became the responsible for creating this ”Flowers” program?


Hello to all the audience of  this national radio! I mean national, because no government is supporting you and I appreciate people who promote Iranian culture through the media.

”Flowers” was founded in 1956. Before that in Sufi gatherings poetry and music were used, even the human voice, but once I was in a meeting held in the garden of Nezam-ol-saltaneh Khajehnuri, men and women were talking about the humanity, poetry and music, were discussing these things together saying that it was a pity that only thirty people hear about these things. Something should be done so everyone could hear it, this is how the issue was raised. They suggested that a radio program should be made. Then my father suggested to do this himself. As a former Deputy to the Prime Minister and former Vice Prime Minister, he could speak to the government to convince them that a Sufi poetry and music program should be released on the radio.

I think it was in April 1956 that the first “Everlasting Flowers” program was broadcast at Radio Iran starting with a poem of Hafez, and lasted ten minutes. At the beginning, “Abd-ol-ali Vaziri” and then  “Banan” were singing. The program was supposed to be a combination of poetry, music and human voice to be affirming. Then, other programs started. ”Flowers”, ”Colorful Flowers”, ”Green leaf” and ”Desert Flowers”, were each focused on a special topic.

My father studied law in Switzerland but before moving to Switzerland, he was studying in the foreign school systems. Three people, including “Mirza Hadi Khan Momayezi” who was a poetry specialist, “Imad Al-Ketab” who gave music and writing lessons, “Darwish Pyrnazar” was a music instrument maker were my father’s teachers. Plus a school teacher in St. Louis school in Tehran who taught western music. My father after going to Switzerland, besides studying science of law, learned the piano by a priest in the Catholic Church. Although had learned the basics of piano in Iran, and then learned the violin and piano, but later, I never saw him perform for anyone else than for his family.

Your father was in law school and then was active in the government. How did a lawyer become a music connoisseur?

Yes, he studied in Switzerland and since we are Pirnia grand children, there is a spiritual state in our family. I always saw my father in our home or in a friend’s house gathered with others and discussed music and poetry in those meetings. As my father left the politics after the Azerbaijan events, he decided to spend his time on this. It was incredible, he spent from 8 am to 8 pm at the studio that he built with his own money and arranged ”Flowers” with the other people’s help. He was not even paid. He never got tired. Sometimes the radio accounting did not have money to pay artists, so he used to send me along with an accountant to Haji Talai’s store to borrow some money. Then the accountant paid the artists. The ”Everlasting Flowers” was everything to my father and he enjoyed it a lot. All the conversations were always about the ”Flowers”.

It seems that ”Flowers” was a start for many artists and many composers also started with ”Flowers”. Could you please name those who sang in ”Flowers”? 
Ms ”Farah” who did not continue any more, “Abd-ol-ali Vaziri”, Mr. “Banan” and “Ghavami,” who are all teachers. The interesting thing was that I was alone with a guest on Friday in a group in Golondak. A gentleman sang very well there. So I asked him if he would liked to sing in ”Flowers” and he was very happy. So I brought him home to Tehran. When we entered the garden New Lalehzar, I asked him to sing because my father was sitting in the garden. My father was very surprised. That man was Mr. “Golpayegani”. Of course, he was student of a famous master such as  Mr. “Nour-Ali Boroumand”. And  ladies such as “Marzieh”, “Elaheh”, “Puran”, “Yasmin” and “Sima Bina” as well, started with ”Flowers”.

I have been collecting for the past 45 years all the singer’s voice, lyrics and music together. I had to get them out of Iran quickly and I was able to bring them to Germany. We worked on them. My son, Daria Pirnia did the technical work with Manssoureh. So we have the ”Flowers” that we are very proud of.

What is it in ”Flowers” that makes it everlasting for all Iranians, even younger generations?
I have to quote two Iranian scientists, ”Aounasr Farabi” and ”Avicenna”. They were both philosophers, but also great musicians. They both said: “If poetry and music came together in certain proportion, then it would be effective on humans.” That is why this collection have influenced people so much. I have 9400 pieces of music on iPod. We are fortunate that in the past ten years we have iPod which is a product of the 21st century’s technology, but our music and lyrics are from the past millennium, Rudaki’s poem is associated with a thousand years ago.

Davood Pirnia compiled writing, poetry and music and created a solidarity between them. Combining poetry and music, that I call ”solidarity”, makes you listen to it several times and by listening several times you can reach the enlightening within. When you listen to each of the ”Flowers”, you feel enlightenment inside and it feels like the ecstatic wine that Hafez talks about.


Mrs. Manssoureh Pirnia! Could you please explain about the current series of ”Flowers”,  and also a little about several thousand poems and songs that you were able to export from Iran which was not an easy task?

Today, October 27, is the UNESCO international day for the preservation of audiovisual documents. Since five years ago, an attempt to maintain visual documentation such as films, radio program, and recorded tapes has started. These documents are strangely sensitive and permeable. What was the image of man, was preserved on stones but in the last hundred years, we could preserve them on the phonograph, tapes, CDs and DVDs. What emerged in the last century to preserve the human voice, is easily destroyable. So the idea was to create new means, and it was time to go Digital. This new technology helped human voice, cultural audiovisual performing arts to be preserved.

As you might know, the music from the era of Islam and the Arab invasion Barbad and Nakisa was condemned but because the Iranian people love their culture and consider it steady and stable, strove to maintain it. Some had to compromise and hide their music instrument under their clothes and continue to do underground music up to the Constitution era, when the music and musicians of Darvish Khan’s  time became more free and consequently led Iranians to more freedoms.

But this freedom did not last long and during and after World War II, we witnessed another attack on the Persian music while neighboring countries music such as Turkish music, Arabic music and Afghans were influencial but the Persian music was in the retrogression circumstances. This made Iranian scholars to think of rescueing the Persain Music and poetry from Arabs destruction and other foreigners invasion and make it recover its place as a pure, specific music.

The great savior of Persian music, Davood Pirnia, who was a prominent politician at that time, put all his political life aside and with his mystical artistic air, was able to gather artists such as “Tajvidi”, “Banan” and the ones that were scattered. Davood Pirnia says himself: “The important thing I did was that they got together. If I waited 10 more years, it would not have been possible because those artists woul not be there anymore. It was a special time and all the artists just wanted somene to bring them together and produce ”Flowers” program.

In ”Flowers” about more than 1550 piece were produced. Iranian music has dominated for the past  hundred years, since Qajar period up to now. After the islamic revolution, Iranian music, once again was attacked altogether with those who loved music, and knew music. Then they cloesd up the access to the archive of ”Flowers”. After a few years that everything calmed down, we managed to bring everything out of the country by putting them on mules, horses or underneath the trucks. We have then transformed them in digital mp3s and conserved today.

Whatever the UNESCO has thought to do today to conserve and protect audiovisuel heritage, we have been doing for the past 45 years and since 5 years ago we have transformed them into digital mp3s format. Even bands that I was stuck and was difficult to maintain we were able to rescue. This is a very valuable collection of over 9,400 pieces of music, in almost 300 thousands minutes.

Another great chance we had is that ten years ago, Apple company created a system called classical iPad with a 16 GB capacity and then 40 GB but still could not carry the volume of the pieces, but when they passed to 160 GB, we could put all the ”Flowers” collections and a hundred year of Iranian music on it as Iranian culture heritage. According to UNESCO, Iranian music is the biggest treasure of audio broadcast in the world that is even bigger than France, Germany, Britain and other countries classicals.

I am thankful and grateful for the supports of Iranians for loving to conserve and preserve their music and culture so we may, like phoenix, recover from our ashes and as  Zoroaster’s fire that travelled through India and returned to Yazd, Iran, return this ablaze fire of Iranian music to Iran. Though right now, with the technical facilities, and iPad extraordinary technology, human creativity, art and thought could be reborn. This is a blessing no nation except Iranians have recieved. Davood Pirnia’s wish was  that ”Flowers” get even outside Iranian borders. A fulfilled dream today, ”Flowers” are worldwidely known today.

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